Schoolwires Succeeds in Hosting with Confidence & Demolishing Downtime
Editor’s Note: The Customer Experience Recognition Awards made their debut in 2014 to recognize the role of content in creating great customer experience. Schoolwires received the 2014 CERA for Accessibility.
Customer accessibility often requires out-of-the-box thinking and an ability for UX designers to put themselves in their customers’ shoes, but at its most basic level accessibility requires that content be available for consumption at the time, in the form, and on the device of the audience’s choosing. And when customers are parents, students, and staff preparing for the new school year, the pressure to have 24/7 availability of critical content increases tremendously. The right content available on a system designed to handle the load was the goal Schoolwires sought to achieve when they began their CERA-winning project Hosting with Confidence and Demolishing Downtime.
Schoolwires provides safe, secure, reliable hosting for K–12 district and school websites. One of their customer pain points is heavy traffic during the back-to-school period. To relieve this pressure, Schoolwires set for themselves a goal of 100% uptime for all customers in the 2013–2014 school year.
Peter Weyandt of Schoolwires reports that they accomplished this goal for all 1600+ customers, which increased customer retention and allowed them to leverage their hosting reliability to expand their customer base. Their success also had the positive result of freeing support resources to focus on training, rather than troubleshooting.
In total, Schoolwires spent ten months implementing their action plan, which consisted of five specific technical and content-based activities:
- replacing firewalls and load balancers with systems that support increased capacity;
- creating Web clusters on modular physical host pods and clustering virtual utility servers off of those pods to isolate utility jobs away from Web servers;
- rewriting communication processes and emergency procedures;
- migrating customers to the new environment; and
- successfully testing the changes using 140% of the projected back-to-school load.
Schoolwires uses the lessons of their success to adapt a system of processes for new projects. Peter says that although they achieved a lot with their own content, it was their ability to share the story of their success that contained one of their largest content lessons. In detailing the story of their CERA win through email, their blog, and other social media channels, Schoolwires provided K–12 leaders with content that was “relevant, practical, and helpful”.